Biyernes, Agosto 5, 2011

The next best thing to the "elixir of life"

It took hundreds of years of painful research and experimentation before alchemists --chemist-philosophers of the Middle Ages-- realized that there was neither a sorcerer's stone nor an elixir of life.

Early recordings have it that what these early day scientists call sorcerer's stone was believed to possess the ability to transform any metal into gold, while the elixir of life was said to be the perfect formula that could make one immortal. The quest for both objects was eventually considered an impossibility.

What those dedicated alchemists didn't know was there was one thing closest to be considered the "elixir of life", the “ultimate panacea”.  And they need not search far.

Modern-day scientists and health experts will all agree that breastmilk is the most nutritious food for babies. It is a complete source of vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients essential to the overall development of infants. The benefits of breastfeeding are encompassing as it improves one's immune system, guards babies against infection, improves mental abilities, makes one less likely to suffer from obesity, diabetes, and allegies in later life. Truly, breastfeeding is the real deal, the true wonder food.

The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life, after which 'infants should receive nutritionally adequate and safe complementary foods while breastfeeding continues for up to two years of age or beyond," as said in a WHO article entitled "Global Strategy for Infant and Young Child Feeding".

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) attests the many advantages of breastfeeding including health, nutritional, immunologic, developmental, psychologic, social, economic, and environmental benefits. "The AAP recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life.Furthermore, "breastfeeding should be continued for at least the first year of life and beyond for as long as mutually desired by mother and child,", according to LM Gartner, et al in a 2005-published article entitled "Breastfeeding and the Use of Human Milk."
In the Philippines, breastfeeding has been an automatic age-old practice of mothers who recently gave birth. Breasts of lactating mothers have been considered a convenient wellspring of milk-- free of charge! For Filipinos, breastmilk helps save money in a country where the price of formulated milk is sky-rocket high. But our "nanay"-- whether she be in the far-flung countryside or is in the backdrop of an ultramodern metropolis, should understand that breastfeeding is not only a cheap method of suppying her baby with food, but more importantly, breastmilk, through breastfeeding, provides health benefits to the growing infant.

As such, the Philippines, together with more than 170 countries, is celebrating World Breastfeeding Week to put breastfeeding in the spotlight as a vital food for growing infants, and as a source of all the nutrients humans need in their physical, mental, even emotional development.

World Breastfeeding Week (WBW) is celebrated every year from August 1-7 in more than 170 countries to encourage breastfeeding and improve the health of babies around the world. It commemorates the Innocenti Declaration made by WHO and The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) policy-makers in August 1990 to protect, promote and support breastfeeding. The celebration is supported by the UNICEF, WHO, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, and the International Pediatric Association.
This year’s WBW's theme is “Talk to me! Breastfeeding – a 3D Experience”. The theme revolves around the spatial (the mother, home, community) and temporal (from pregnancy to weaning) dimensions of breastfeeding, and includes a third one which is communication. Communication has been lacking in the promotion of breastfeeding while as it is known by health experts to be a wonder food, the common person doesn't seem to know so. The goal from this year's theme is to educate the public, especially women about the health benefits breastfeeding could give to infants until it reaches maturity.

With this celebration, Filipinos are expected to have a richer understanding of breasfeeding and breastmilk as a traditional yet effective way of feeding, rearing, and helping the young Filipino develop an intelligent mind and a healthy, robust body.

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